The Best Tools for Removing Grout
Equip yourself with the right tool or tools to make grout removal a faster, easier project. Ahead, see our top tips and recommendations, as well as our top-pick favorites among the best grout removal tools available.
Taking on a home improvement project is exciting, but removing grout—the dense material that fills gaps and seals joints, most commonly on tiled surfaces—can quickly dampen a DIYer’s enthusiasm. Old, dirty grout is one of the main offenders in making a bathroom or kitchen look shabby, so swapping it out is a great way to refresh your space. And while grout removal is typically a labor-intensive process, the right tools can make things go more smoothly and speedily, and send you on your way to the satisfying aspect of the project, grout replacement.
Grout can be removed using a variety of power tools, and even manual grout removal tools come in different shapes and sizes Keep reading to understand the differences between these options, and which types of tools are suitable or which types of grout removal projects. Also ahead, get details on our top-favorite picks among the best grout removal tools available:
- BEST OSCILLATING TOOL: DEWALT 20V MAX XR Oscillating Tool Kit
- BEST RECIPROCATING SAW: DEWALT Reciprocating Saw
- BEST ROTARY TOOL: Dremel 4000 High-Performance Rotary Tool
- BEST MANUAL GROUT REMOVER: REETREE Grout Removal Tool
- BEST ANGLE GRINDER: PORTER-CABLE Angle Grinder
Types of Grout Removal Tools
There are many methods for removing grout, but each tool for the job comes with benefits and drawbacks. In general, the more powerful the tool, the more dust it will generate, so be sure to wear a face mask—and all other applicable personal protective equipment—while removing grout.
- An oscillating tool equipped with a grout removal blade is one of the best options, and with the right blade, can be used on any type of grout. Rather than grinding grout into messy dust like a reciprocating saw, rotary tool, or angle grinder, this tool operates at a slower speed to take out larger pieces of grout using an oscillating motion. Though far faster and easier than manual grout removal, an oscillating tool takes more time and effort than a higher-powered option.
- A reciprocating saw with a grout grabber blade is ideal for removing hard grout, like sanded or epoxy varieties. It can do the job quickly, but if you lack experience with these powerful saws—which can jump around during use and damage nearby tiles—go slowly until you get the hang of it.
- A rotary tool with a grout removal accessory is the slowest of powered grout removal options, yet it will still kick up a lot of dust, so it’s best for smaller grout removal projects. To avoid hitting the edge of a tile with a rotary tool, be sure that the gap between the tiles is at least 1/8-inch.
- An angle grinder is a powerful tool best suited to large grout removal projects with a lot of long, straight lines. They can easily cut through epoxy, sanded, or unsanded grout. Like rotary tools, their spinning disk requires a 1/8-inch gap between tiles to avoid damage. The main drawback with angle grinders is the excessive amount of dust they fling into the air, quickly creating a breathing hazard, so wear a standard N95 dust mask to filter out particles.
- A manual grout removal tool generally consists of a handle and blade, with varying degrees of shape and ergonomic support. They make grout removal long, hard, and tedious work, so only rely on them for very small projects with unsanded grout, or for cleaning up tile lines after using a powered option.
Key Shopping Considerations
When looking for the best grout removal tool, consider some important aspects to ensure you pick the best tool for you and your project.
Manual vs. Mechanical
The size and time frame of the project will determine whether you use manual or mechanical grout removal tools. Note that the mechanical tools mentioned here all have various uses beyond removing grout, such as cutting and sanding.
- Manual grout removal tools can be employed for small projects, like a powder room floor or a kitchen backsplash. They also come in handy for precise detail work, such as removing fine deposits left on tiles after a power tool removes the bulk of the grout. A grout knife for sanded grout and a carbide cutter for unsanded grout are among your options; don’t try to remove epoxy grout with a manual tool.
- Mechanical grout removal tools are faster and better-suited to large projects. Less powerful options, like an oscillating tool or a rotary tool, easily cut through unsanded grout, while more powerful options like a reciprocating saw or angle grinder will take care of sanded and even epoxy grout.
Blade material becomes important when working with harder grout types, like sanded and epoxy grout.
- Carbide blades are the go-to for most grout removal tools as they are both moderately priced and hard enough to handle the toughest grout.
- Tungsten steel blades are harder and pricier than carbide options but they work fast, and are especially good for dealing with a lot of epoxy grout.
- Stainless steel blades, the softest, cheapest option, aren’t effective for hard grout. Use them for unsanded grout removal or to clean up tile edges.
Types of Grout
There are three main types of grout you’re likely to encounter, and they range in difficulty to remove.
- Unsanded grout is most likely seen on tiled walls and showers in newer homes. It’s easy to penetrate with a manual removal tool, even with a stainless steel blade. If going mechanical, stick to lower-power options like an oscillating or rotary tool to reduce the risk of damaging tiles.
- Sanded grout is usually found on floors or outside settings of older homes. Very dense and solid with a primary component of silica sand and cement, it’s difficult to remove manually and should be tackled with a mechanical solution and a carbide blade.
- Epoxy grout, the hardest, coarsest type, is typically used in the showers of swimming pools and gyms, though it’s starting to gain popularity with residential tiling contractors. If a manual grout removal tool barely scratches the grout in question, it may be epoxy-based. A powerful tool such as an angle grinder or reciprocating saw should be used to remove epoxy grout.
The extra features on grout removal tools range widely. Mechanical tools may have speed options, trigger locks, built-in LED lights for better visibility, and convenient carrying cases. Manual options can include ergonomic grips, replacement blades, and variable blade tips for fine, moderate, or deep penetration.
Our Top Picks
The grout removal tools below were chosen based on price, popularity, customer approval, and purpose.
1. BEST OSCILLATING TOOL: DEWALT 20V MAX XR Oscillating Tool Kit
The DEWALT 20V MAX XR Oscillating Tool Kit comes with a carbide grout removal blade, and it has enough power to deal with any grout type. The compact, lightweight design makes the tool easier to use over long periods, and the quick-change accessory system and dual-grip, variable speed trigger make it easy to use and control. A built-in LED light provides added illumination when working in darker rooms. The tool kit is helpful for a host of other projects such as removing trim or cutting drywall, so with 27 additional accessories and a carrying case, it can be a useful addition to your power tool collection, despite its somewhat steep price tag.
2. BEST RECIPROCATING SAW: DEWALT Reciprocating Saw
Corded for consistent power output, the DEWALT Reciprocating Saw uses a 12-amp motor and can remove any type of grout if paired with a carbide grout grabber blade. Take advantage of the variable speed trigger for enhanced control—important to avoid damaging tiles. The keyless, lever-action blade clamp makes for fast blade changes, and there are four blade positions for increased versatility. The saw weighs in at just over 8 pounds, which is pretty hefty and could increase fatigue, but the power it provides can help get the job done faster.
3. BEST ROTARY TOOL: Dremel 4000 High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit
The Dremel 4000 High-Performance Rotary Tool features a variable speed dial that ranges from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM, enough power for unsanded or sanded grout removal. The lightweight and ergonomic design allow for enhanced control and longer use without fatigue. Like all rotary tools, however, it can only be used on grout where the tiles are at least 1/8” apart. The versatile tool—which can come in handy for many projects beyond grout removal—includes 30 different accessories, two attachments, and a carrying case.
4. BEST MANUAL GROUT REMOVER: REETREE Grout Removal Tool
For small grout removal jobs as well as detail work power tools can’t manage, the ReeTree Grout Removal Tool is a fine option. Its tungsten steel tips can handle both unsanded and sanded grout. There are three tip shapes designed for fine, moderate, and deep penetration between tiles, while eight sharpened scraping edges increase efficiency. The ergonomic grip and 13-inch length make it easier to clean hard-to-reach places while minimizing fatigue.
5. BEST ANGLE GRINDER: PORTER-CABLE Angle Grinder
For big, tough grout removal jobs, consider the PORTER-CABLE Angle Grinder, as its powerful 7-amp motor is capable of handling either sanded or epoxy grout (indeed, it’s too much tool for unsanded grout). The 11,000 RPMs of force quickly cut through grout, and the sturdy design means it’s built to last. At 4 pounds, it’s half the weight of a reciprocating saw, letting you work longer without tiring. A wheel-guard helps protect your face and hands while you grind away, but expect a lot of dust—as you’d find with any angle grinder.